Who’s up for some Friday questions?
Beth Ciotta gets us started:
As a new and avid fan of BECKER via reruns.... Becker is, on the surface, a pretty despicable guy, yet I feel for him, root for him. Do you consider him the most difficult character you ever tried to humanize. If not... who and why?
Humanizing the character was made easy by casting Ted Danson in the role. He has a natural warmth that takes the curse off a lot of the outrageous things he says. Cast Ron Leibman in the part and the audience would storm CBS. But Ted could get away with it. And charm is not something you can just learn. Trust me, I've taken many courses.
Ken, have you ever taken a premise created for characters on one show that might not have been used and tweaked it to fit characters on another show?
But we give the character different names and backgrounds. It’s not like Kilgore Trout appearing in a bunch of Kurt Vonnegut novels.
I was watching a favorite 1970s show that had a bonus "Where Are They Now" clip for the DVD.
The men looked about how you would expect. But several women had opted for extreme plastic surgery--I found myself really distracted as they spoke--gaping at the unflattering results.
Do you ever run into people you used to know back in the day now rendered unrecognizable? How do you handle that?
I try not to gasp. I'm not always successful.
Sometimes I see big decisions that affect a number of following episodes being written by freelancers/non-staff writers, like a character moving in with others or taking a new job. Who takes those decisions, is it the writer him/herself or does the showrunner/execs decide and tell whoever is gonna write the episode?
It's the showrunner. The freelancer may come in with that story and the showrunner responds to it, but generally, the freelancer or staff writer is assigned the story. It always amazed me when people would write spec episodes of LOST. How the hell did they even have a clue where the show was going?
It used to be that a freelancer would pitch story ideas to the producer. If the producer liked the story he bought it and hired the freelancer to write it. Rarely is that the case today. Producers are impressed with a spec, bring a young writer in and give them the story. It makes sense. Generally, seasonal arcs are plotted out and for the freelancer to come in with a perfect story is like scoring a bullseye on a moving target.
And finally, from Barbara C.:
Have you ever done any video commentaries? Do you wish that was something going on during your MASH, Cheers, or Frasier years or are you just as glad not do have to deal with that bother?
I would have loved to do commentaries for CHEERS or FRASIER. Paramount’s presentation for the DVD’s of those two series is lackluster and cheap. Little or no bonus features. Maybe they’ll put something together for the Blu-Ray releases, but I’m not holding my breath. Not even holding my breath there will BE Blu-Ray releases.
What’s your question? Leave ‘em in the comments section. Many thanks.